Medical device companies spend millions on tools and resources to support healthcare providers (HCPs); however, since the COVID-19 pandemic, field rep access to providers has become more limited, and manufacturers often find themselves competing with other brands for attention in email and other digital channels. As the experts in their brand, its unique benefits, and ideal patient profile, manufacturers have unique knowledge that can help providers make better treatment recommendations – and improve patient outcomes – if they can find the right way to share that knowledge with providers.
Steve Silvestro is the Chief Commercial Officer at OptimizeRx, using his expertise in life science commercialization and enterprise SaaS strategy to help biopharma and medical device companies discover better ways to support the healthcare providers that prescribe their treatment, and the patients that need access to life-saving therapies. In this exclusive interview, he shares his perspective on how life science companies can translate their extensive brand knowledge into a digital, forward-looking HCP engagement strategy.
1. Why is it so important for life science manufacturers to support HCPs in making patient care decisions? How can they add value to physician-patient interactions?
Life science manufacturers have a unique opportunity to use their extensive brand knowledge to help patients start on the right treatment for their condition faster. HCPs see overwhelming volumes of patients, and often struggle with limited appointment time and limited medical history when trying to decide the best care pathway. Because life science brands know both what patients are most likely to benefit from their treatment – and the most common leakage points that contribute to poorer outcomes – they can “step into” in the patient journey and connect physicians to clinically relevant information that relates to the patient they are treating.
The key to ensuring that manufacturers add value to physician-patient interactions is making sure that their communications are personalized, relevant, and actionable for the HCP – otherwise, manufacturer-sponsored content just becomes a distraction. Fortunately, by using tools like artificial intelligence and real-world data, and taking advantage of point-of-care channels like the EHR, we have unprecedented control over when and where to engage HCPs with manufacturer content.
2. What are the challenges life science companies face in engaging and supporting HCPs? What strategies can mitigate those challenges?
Field representatives have traditionally been a leading source of brand information for providers, but it’s no secret that COVID restrictions and more limited time for face-to-face interactions have impacted those relationships. Many manufacturers have shifted to digital strategies, but these communications become noise if they are generic and not timely or relevant. In addition, common distribution channels like brand websites or emails result in providers having to hunt for the information they need – and remember to look for it – which limits accessibility and value.
The most effective digital strategies deliver content at the point-of-care, offer new ways to connect with HCPs throughout the prescribing journey, and complement the role of field teams. For example, OptimizeRx integrates key brand information directly into EHR, so providers have the resources to help patients start on the right device or therapy, faster. We also give providers a direct digital connection from the EHR to their field rep, so they can instantly reach out within the clinical workflow. This makes it easier for HCPs to get support when they have an immediate need, while also helping manufacturers improve the quality of field team conversations and gain new insights about customer needs.
3. There’s been a high amount of interest in using real-world data (RWD) and artificial intelligence (AI) to better inform patient care decisions. Where do you see the value in these new tools? What are the pitfalls manufacturers should be aware of?
Life science manufacturers are using RWD and AI in new and excited ways; for example, Bob White, Executive Vice President and President of the Medical Surgical Portfolio at Medtronic, gave an inspiring keynote talk at 2021’s FierceMedtech Innovation Week about the potential of AI to “supercharge the access, speed, accuracy and quality of both diagnostic and therapeutic decision making.”
Among life science marketers, we’ve seen a lot of interest in using RWD to identify physicians who are actively treating the profile of patients for their brand, as a way to better direct and inform HCP communications. However, one of the most common pitfalls they run into is the limited accuracy of historic RWD sources, like claims data, in predicting future prescribing behavior. To counteract this, we’ve taken a different approach. Rather than using RWD to predict HCP activity, we apply AI to predict future patient care milestones based on current care activities. As a result, we’re better able to anticipate where a patient is on their journey, and deliver information to their provider that reflects the current – and future – needs of that specific patient.
When used in this way, AI and RWD provide manufacturers with a more precise way to tailor content for maximum relevance and actionability, as well as to use their unique knowledge to help guide HCPs to the best options for a patient. Our AI-driven RWD solutions also draw on information from beyond the EHR, helping providers to recognize clinically relevant options that they may not otherwise consider, but could lead to faster diagnosis or a better treatment choice – potentially improving patient outcomes.
4. What advice would you give life science manufacturers that want to revisit or expand their current HCP engagement strategies? What steps can they take to better support HCPs and help improve patient outcomes?
The first step is to fully understand what information, content and resources will ultimately help HCPs to make better care decisions for their patients. From there, it’s all about optimizing communication channels to reflect provider workflows and clinical situations. Integrating brand resources or field rep communications into the EHR gives HCPs the information they need at the moment they are delivering care, and AI/RWD tools can maximize the actionability and impact of that content. With these small changes that increase the accessibility and relevance of brand resources, life science brands can not only build stronger relationships with HCPs levels, but better support care decisions and improve patient outcomes.